Guidance for events conducted in the NT
Event organisers can use this information to navigate the protocol aspects of organising an event or ceremony in the Northern Territory.
Organising an event
Table of Precedence
The Northern Territory Table of Precedence identifies the relative importance of the position held by an individual and offers guidance for the order in which dignitaries are to be recognised, seated and acknowledged at formal occasions.
Representation of elected officials at events
Should an elected official be unable to attend an event to which they have been invited, it would be appropriate for them to nominate an alternate elected official to represent them at the occasion.
If the nominated attendee is not an elected official, that individual should not be:
- formally acknowledged at the event
- acknowledged as the Elected Official’s representative
- seated with the official party
- invited to address the audience
If an elected official attends an event accompanied by a guest or staff member, it is appropriate for that guest or staff member to be seated with the Elected Official within the allocated seating for the official party.
However, only the elected official should be formally acknowledged during proceedings.
Those who receive orders and decorations are entitled to use the appropriate post-nominal initials after their names when customary, and when the use of post-nominal in correspondence and formal address is an integral part of an award.
The longstanding practice for the Northern Territory is that there is no need for a post-nominal to be announced when acknowledging someone.
For example, if the Chief Minister is being publicly introduced you should remove the post nominal (MLA) and just say:
- The Honourable Jane Smith, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
The rule for the recognition of an Honorary Doctorate is generally limited to the immediate surrounding area of the institution/campus of which it was granted.
The practice for invitations to official or government functions is to include a post-nominal on the envelope but exclude it on the invitation or seating card with the exception of a VC (Victoria Cross), CV (Cross of Valour), MP (Member of Parliament, and RAN (Royal Australian Navy).
During the event
Master of Ceremonies (MC)
The role of the Master of Ceremonies (MC) is to preside over formal ceremonies and other occasions hosted by Government or business and community groups, to ensure an event runs as planned. The MC will usually commence the formalities section of the function.
Introducing or acknowledging dignitaries and other special guests is generally the duty of the Master of Ceremonies (MC) and will generally occur at the commencement of proceedings.
Acknowledgments need only be announced once and if the MC delivers the acknowledgements, there is no obligation for any other speaker to so.
It is important that every event is designed to suit the objectives of that unique event. The acknowledgements should therefore be worked through on an event-by-event basis.
There will be occasions, particularly formal or ceremonial activities, where it is appropriate for the MC to read through a list of notable guests in attendance.
Generally a minimalist approach is most appropriate, where a small number of key dignitaries are acknowledged followed by a “catch all” of - other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Occasionally an event will have other VIP guests in attendance that may need to be recognised but whose position may not be included in the NT Table of Precedence.
The appropriate place to insert these individuals in the list of acknowledgements is not always clear. It is advisable to compile a full listing of all dignitaries to be acknowledged and insert the non-Table of Precedence position holders as appropriately and sensitively as possible.
Should a number of notable guests be present it is recommended that where possible, groupings of similar positions can be used. Rather than individually recognising a long list of Honorary Consuls you could collectively announce “Members of the Consular Corps” for example.
Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country
Including a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country in formalities is an important recognition of the Traditional Owners of the land on which an event is being held.
- Welcome to Country’ : can only be offered by a Traditional Owner of the land on which the event is taking place.
- Acknowledgement of Country’: an be given by a non-Traditional Owner and while no formal wording is required, something like the following would be appropriate.
“I acknowledge that we gather on the traditional lands of the Larrakia people and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.”
A Welcome to Country would only occur once. However, each speaker at an event may or may not offer an Acknowledgement of Country as part of their speech.
Last updated: 27 October 2022
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